Maple Sugaring Weekend Day Trips Near New York City
As much as we love NYC there are some things you just can’t do here. One those things is maple sugaring, the process of transforming sticky, tasteless tree sap into sweet syrup. Maple trees only grow in the Northeast region of North America, so it's the one place that produces real maple syrup.
Maple sugaring season starts the last weekend of February and runs through March, when climbing temperatures allow the sap to begin running in the trees or "sugar bushes" as they're sometimes called. Seeing how the sap is collected, cooked and stored (and tasting the yummy final product) is a great way for kids to learn about the farm-to-table movement that's spreading across American dining tables. New York City is close to many farms and nature centers where families can watch maple sugaring demos, indulge in pancake breakfasts, enjoy maple syrup festivals and other seasonal fun. So as winter winds down, enjoy one of these sweet maple sugaring season day trips.
Maple Sugaring Day Trips in New York State
Sugaring Sundays – Ossining, Westchester County
Teatown Lake Reservation, 1600 Spring Valley Road
Sundays, February 24, March 3 and 10 at 1, 2 and 3pm
Educators at this maple tree-filled nature center will demonstrate the entire sugaring process in Warren’s sugar house. If you would prefer to taste the sweet stuff while you learn, visit during the spot's Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, March 16 and dig into a bountiful early morning meal before your demo for $12 for adults, $7 for children under age 12.
Sugarfest 2013 – Mount Kisco, Westchester County
Westmoreland Sanctuary Nature Center and Wildlife Preserve, 260 Chestnut Ridge Road
Saturday, March 9-Sunday, March 10 9am-1pm
$10 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-10, free for kids under 3
This beautiful 640-acre preserve celebrates the sweet season with a feast of homemade pancakes dripping with maple syrup, followed by a look at the evolution of the sugaring process. Reservations required.
Maple Sugar Tours – Cornwall, Orange County
Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, Outdoor Discovery Center, 100 Muser Drive
Saturdays and Sundays, March 2-3, 9-10, 16-17 and 23-24; tours start every half hour between 10:30am-3pm.
$12 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-11, free for kids under 3
Throughout the month, families can enjoy an hour-long walk through the forest while learning about the maple sugaring process (and sampling the sweet stuff, of course). In addition, on Saturday, March 2 from 10:30am-3pm, the museum will host a Maple Sugar Festival featuring crafts, games, tree-tapping contests, Native American storytelling and seasonal snacks around an outdoor camp fire.
Maple Sugar Open House – Claryville, Sullivan County
Frost Valley YMCA, 2000 Frost Valley Road
Saturdays and Sundays, March 16-17 and 23-24; tours start every half hour between 9am-4pm
The Y will offer guided tours of its Catskill maple sugar works along with hikes and other seasonal activities. Reservations recommended.
Maple Sugaring Classes – Commack, Long Island
Hoyt Farm Nature Center, 200 New Highway
Sundays, February 24, March 3 and 10 at 1:30-3pm
$3 per person, $8 per family
DIY-ers can learn how to tap their own backyard trees, what equipment to buy, which trees to tap, and special tapping techniques used by Native Americans and early American settlers.
Find out about more maple sugaring outings on Long Island.
Maple Sugaring Day Trips in New Jersey
Maple Sugaring – Tenafly
Tenafly Nature Center, 313 Hudson Avenue
Sundays, February 24, March 3, 10 and 17 at 12:30pm and 2pm
$10 per person, FREE for Children under 2 years
Visit this 400-acre nature preserve for hands on demo maple sugaring, families can check the buckets on the tapped trees, boil down sap and more. Pre-registration required.
Find out about more maple sugaring outings in New Jersey.
Maple Sugaring Day Trips in Connecticut
First County Bank Maple Sugar Weekend – Stamford
Stamford Museum and Nature Center, 39 Scofieldtown Road
Saturday, March 2-Sunday, March 3 11am-3pm
$10 admission, free for children under age 4
Learn how Native Americans created sugar from sap using the "hot rock" method, see how colonials used large iron cauldrons to boil the sap over an open fire, and then stop by the maple sugar house to watch the modern evaporation technique in action. There will also be lots of sweet treats and a pancake breakfast on Sunday, March 3 for an additional $5. Other activities include maple-themed crafts, a scavenger hunt and face painting. The museum also has a host of other kid attractions, including farm animals, an otter pond and a playground.
Annual Hebron Maple Festival – Hebron
Saturday, March 9-Sunday, March 10 9:45am-4pm
Free admission but there are fees for certain activities.
The entire town throws a big bash to celebrate syrup. Families can visit local sugar houses and nosh on fried dough and pancakes covered in maple syrup. Other fun includes scavenger hunts, museum tours, live animals and music.
Find out about more maple sugaring outings in Connecticut.
Maple Sugaring Open House Weekends
Many maple syrup spots hold free weekend open houses at this time of year. Visitors will find maple trees fitted with collection hoses or tapped with spouts and buckets, and the sweet smell of boiling sap fills the air. Maple snacks are often available like seasonal specialty “sugar on snow:” hot syrup straight from the vats, poured into bowls of chopped ice. As the syrup cools, it transforms into a rubbery, chewy, maple candy. There are also other tasty maple morsels to try—doughnuts and cotton candy are two of my family's favorites. Other activities often include hikes, wagon rides and sleigh riding.
New York State Maple Sugar Producers
New York State has plenty of participating sugar houses. You can search by zip code and pick places closest to home in Westchester, Putnam and Duchess Counties. This year, the state's open house weekend are Saturdays and Sundays, March 16-17 and 23-24.
Massachusetts Maple Sugar Producers
Massachusetts sugar houses are usually open on March weekends selling syrup and maple snacks, and sometimes even hosting pancake breakfasts, but it's wise to call ahead and confirm when they're accepting visitors.
Connecticut Maple Sugar Producers
While Connecticut has its fair share of sugar houses, there's no specific open house weekend. Call ahead to find out when to visit.
Vermont's Annual Open House Weekend
You can’t talk about maple syrup without writing about Vermont. Many people (including me) won’t pour anything but Vermont gold on their pancakes. This year, the state's open house weekend is March 23-24.
New England Maple Museum
Route 7, Pittsford, Vermont
Families can explore the centuries-old history of maple sugaring at this quirky museum, and also taste the real Vermont sweet stuff.
Find out about other wonderful day and weekend trips in our Family Travel Guide.